Gwinn in MN

Stupid things faster, with more energy

Less good donut news

Posted by chrisgwinn on August 18, 2008

I appear to have become the guy who blogs about donuts in Minnesota. Well, we all have our niche to fill in the world, and I can think of worse.

Mel-O-Glaze was burglarized this morning. Around 4 AM, somebody broke one of the doors and tried to steal their TV. I guess one of the guys who lives in a nearby apartment saw it happen and called the cops. There was a TV sitting in the ally when I got there, so maybe they didn’t get far? I’m confused on details.

Apparently this is not the first time in recent months that Mel-O-Glaze has been robbed, which is why they are no longer a donut shop and an internet cafe. Sad. If you live in Minneapolis, you should stop by and buy something – I’m sure they can use the business.

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Good news!

Posted by chrisgwinn on August 8, 2008

Yes, yes, friends are getting engaged and the packers are getting screwed, but there’s one piece of very important news that trumps all of that!

Dunkin Donuts may be returning to Minnesota!

When I moved here, there were a few things that I just couldn’t reliably find and that I missed terribly.  Most of those were eventually resolved, but there was a big hole in my life with a smaller hole in the middle, fillable only with east coast style cake donuts.  I especially like the chocolate and peanut ones.

Lone Donut Cafe plugged that hole for a while (as anyone who worked with me at MarketWatch knows), but they closed.  They closed shortly after I left MarketWatch, actually.  I wonder if we were keeping them in business.

Not that there aren’t great donuts here.  I’ve mentioned Mel-O-Glaze before, and A Baker’s Wife has some fantastic donuts.  World’s Best Donuts in Grand Marais is great, but isn’t the sort of place I can stop by on my way to work.

Sorry, Donut Connection on Lyndale, you suck.  You’re like the pale reflection of a shadow of a Dunkin Donuts.  I hope they return and drive you from the city.  Maybe North Dakota needs a crappy donut shop.

And, because I’ve been waiting for a chance to use this picture, here’s a picture of Zoe in the World’s Best Donuts viking photo cutout:

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I wear my sunglasses at… day?

Posted by chrisgwinn on August 2, 2008

Yet another entry in the dumb things list…

On Friday, I managed to grab my prescription sunglasses while driving into work, but left my regular glasses at home. When I got to work and noticed, I figured that I’d just try and wear my sunglasses and grab my regular glasses over lunch.

Well, it turns out that polarized sunglasses and LCD monitors aren’t friends. If I turned my head 45 degrees to the right, everything went black. If I turned my head to the left, everything got brighter. Guess which way my head naturally goes when I’m thinking?

People tried to comfort me, saying things like “At least you looked cool”. No. No, I didn’t. I wouldn’t look cool if I was wearing a leather jacket, walking away from an exploding helicopter and carrying a katana.

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Jail is also not a big truck

Posted by chrisgwinn on July 29, 2008

My least favorite senator has been indicted.

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A roundup of things

Posted by chrisgwinn on July 27, 2008

The big news in my world is that Zoe needs eye surgery. Ann summarized the details better than I would.  I was freaking out for much of Friday, but I think I’m good now.

Previous to that excitement, we had a great vacation trip to Bluefin Bay (up near Grand Marais).  Combine that with the trip Dad and I took to the Iola Old Car Show and you’ve got more time in the car than I’ve had in a long time.  Ann put some pictures up.  Food highlights – World’s Best Donuts in Grand Marais is surprisingly good, as is fresh Lake Trout.  We brought back some smoked Lake Superior whitefish and ate it in a salad with some fennel from the farm share.  Yum.

Zoe’s changed her mind on sichuan peppers and will now gladly snarf down dan-dan noodles from Tea House.  Which is good, since I ended up with some leftovers from the long-delayed four51 holiday party.

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I’m sure this says something about us as parents

Posted by chrisgwinn on July 7, 2008

Zoe’s been learning words left and right recently. Sometimes she asks for things, but quite often she just points and proudly identifies something she knows the word for. So we’ve been confused the last week or so when she loudly and intentionally said “doppy!” or “doppy do”. She didn’t seem to want anything in particular and there didn’t seem to be anything consistently around when she said it.

This morning we get a clear point and a “doppy”. “Is doppy coffee?” says Ann. Big nod. Big smile.

She wasn’t pointing at coffee. “Coffee” has clearly been generalized as the term for anything Mom and Dad are drinking, especially if it’s not for Zoe. Coffee is coffee, but so is beer, wine, water in glass glasses, etc.

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Mojitos

Posted by chrisgwinn on July 3, 2008

I promised food blogging.  I failed.  La Finca’s still in early spring mode, so there’s been a lot of salad greens, some bok choy and some radishes.

However, it’s almost the 4th of July weekend, and I’ve been asked about it recently, so here’s my mojito recipe.  You’ll need a bag of limes, a lot of mint and a good citrus juicer (I have one of these), along with the usual booze and mixers.  The mojito recipe I’ve settled on is refreshing, but pretty weak.

Prep:

Before you actually want a mojito, make a batch of mint simple syrup.  This will keep for a while in the fridge, so I usually make it up the day before I expect company.  Simple syrup is, well, simple to make.  Take a cup of water and a cup of sugar in a small saucepan.  Boil and stir until all the sugar is dissolved in the water.  Then you basically make mint tea out of it – remove the syrup from heat, throw a handful of mint leaves in and leave it for a while.  I usually just wait until it cools.  Strain all the mint remains out and you’ll be left with a pale green syrup.

Recipe:

I usually make the mojitos in a tall glass.  Depending on how many people we have and how drunk they are, this frequently becomes a plastic cup. Put a generous amount of ice in the cup.  Add (in no particular order):

  • the juice from a lime
  • 1.5 oz white rum
  • 1.5 oz mint simple syrup
  • club soda to fill the glass
  • half of the juiced lime and a few mint leaves for garnish

Stir or you’ll be sad.  The amount of rum and mint can go up or down to taste, and I generally go light on the rum and heavy on the syrup.

Toddler Advice:

Obviously, Zoe doesn’t get mojitos.  She does love what we call Zojitos, which is lime juice, a mint leaf and an ice cube in a little club soda.  Zoe also loves to get ice cubes out of the freezer.

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Soup for you!

Posted by chrisgwinn on June 9, 2008

Our CSA share from La Finca will start up soon. I’ve been feeling like I’m stuck in a cooking rut, and there’s nothing like being handed random vegetables to break you out of it. I’ve also been feeling like I’d like to blog more, since the place I used to write things has apparently vanished. So food blogging it is. I’m going to try to come up with (and post about) at least one dish a week.

This week we get an old favorite while waiting for the farm share to start up – an old soup recipe from my mother’s mother, modified with some recent changes I’ve made.

Yup – chicken soup. Not exactly a summer recipe, for sure, but good regardless.  Also the only dish I happened to have pictures of handy.

Ingredients

  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken (about four pounds), cut in pieces.  Mom usually skinned it, I tend to just remove the larger fat deposits and partially skin it
  • 1-2 tablespoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup dry white wine
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled and coarsely chopped.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and cut in wedges
  • 1 tablespoon whole peppercorns.  If you don’t like whole peppercorns in your soup, wrap them in some cheesecloth first
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder (yes, yes, no such thing.  blah blah blah.  Just use the stuff in the jar)
  • 2-3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 2-3 large carrots, cut in 1/2″ pieces.
  • 2-3 celery stalks, cut in 1/2″ pieces (with leafy ends)
  • 1 package extra wide egg noodles

There are two options for the first step.  The way I do it now is really only feasible if you happen to have two appropriate-sized pots.

Mom’s way: Mom would always put the salt and chicken in a large soup pot, add cold water up to 1 inch from the top of the pot and bring it to a boil.  Then you drop it to medium-low and skim.  Do this for about ten minutes, then add everything that isn’t the carrots and celery.  Simmer for 30 minutes.

My way: I have two appropriately-sized pots and I borrowed a trick from New Best Recipe’s chicken stock recipe.  What I  do is put one covered pot full of water over high heat.  Then I take the second pot, put some oil in the bottom and get it hot.  Brown the onions, then remove them from the pot and keep them handy in a bowl.  Take the first half of the chicken and brown on both sides until it’s no longer pink, then add it to the same bowl as the onions.  Brown the second half of the chicken the same way, then add the chicken and onions back to the pot.  Make sure to get any juices that the chicken released.  Add the remaining ingredients, except the carrots and celery.  Cover and cook on low for 20 minutes.

Then — and be careful here — pour the boiling water from the first pot into the second pot.

Both ways: Add the chopped carrots and celery and cook, uncovered until they are tender, about 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook the egg noodles according to directions on the package.  Don’t try to cook the noodles in the soup – you’ll end up with casserole.

After the soup is cooked, fish the chicken pieces out with tongs.  After they’ve cooled a bit, shred them and return to the soup.  Serve with the noodles.

Variants: I haven’t run into a variant that I like enough to make again.  You can obviously use other fresh herbs in place of the parsley.  I’ve used celeriac in place of the celery when it came in our CSA share.  Most recipes like this will call for bay leaves, but I haven’t noticed much of a difference when using them.  I keep meaning to try adding some lemon grass.

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Fafblog is back!

Posted by chrisgwinn on May 13, 2008

After nearly two years where the earth was a sad and empty wasteland, fafblog is updating again.  This makes me happy.

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Mother’s Day Picnic

Posted by chrisgwinn on May 12, 2008

Ann asked to have a picnic for mother’s day.  Picnics for vegetarians are a little outside of my comfort zone – I generally prefer warm food for lunch, and I don’t have much experience with picnic-appropriate vegetarian food.   I could have done the standard fresh fruit/humus/yogurt/tabouli approach, but I decided to try something a little different.  It worked out well, so here’s my new vegetarian sandwich recipe.  Sorry, no food pictures this time.

Roast a few garlic cloves.  Set aside to cool.

Take about half of a medium size red onion and cook with olive oil, salt and pepper until it starts to go soft. I sliced the onions into rings, but that led to larger pieces of onion that were easy to eat in a sandwich.  A coarse chop is probably a better idea.

Then add about eight ounces of sliced mushrooms and some red wine vinegar.  Any kind of mushrooms should work – I just used crimini this time.  Cook over medium heat until the mushrooms are brown.

Slice a baguette into sandwich-sized chunks and split lengthwise.  I did some light toasting in the pan I’d cooked the mushrooms and onions in, but I don’t think that added much.  The roasted garlic gets spread on one half of the bread, ricotta cheese is spread on the other.

Tear up some fresh basil leaves and julienne some sun-dried tomatoes.  Put them and a good-sized portion of the mushroom/onion mixture in the sandwich.

Sandwiches were a success, but they’re not toddler-friendly.  The crustiness of the baguette made it difficult for Zoe to eat, and I don’t think the texture of the sandwich would work with a soft bread.

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